Te Rongopai DVD
Dr Stuart Lange presents a five-part series documenting the story of the Gospel in New Zealand from Samuel Marsden forwards – its impact, the complications, and the way Christianity has had a significant impact in shaping New Zealand society both then and now.
DVD: 65 mins in 5 chapters and can be played in any zone
Price includes postage and packaging within New Zealand
Managing Stress, by Helen Calder, was peer-reviewed by Glyn Carpenter, former National Director of NZ Christian Network
A level of stress that gets adrenaline and cortisol going and brings out our best performance is healthy. However, in our 21st-century world, many of us experience undue levels of stress and pressure that make us feel overwhelmed and which need alleviating. It can be unhealthy and unhelpful if stress becomes chronic. The impact can be physical, mental, emotional, behavioural, psychosomatic and spiritual.
Our attitudes and responses to stress and how we address it will be influenced, amongst other factors, by our personality type and our cultural background as well as our age and gender.
Once we recognise that we’re overly stressed there are several things we can do:
Identify what’s causing the stress and where possible take action to deal with stressors and make ourselves less vulnerable. Some are self-induced while others are unavoidable. The latter may be reduced by pinpointing the root cause of the strain.
Find support for the situations faced. Studies show those with good support are less vulnerable to the effects of stress.
Find and practice some techniques to help relieve the physical, mental and emotional symptoms. This is the main focus of this resource.
Many people have their favourite techniques to help relieve stress. Here are some I’ve collected from friends and colleagues, many of which I’ve used myself.
Pray, asking God to help you cope with the immediate situation.
Four by four breathing, also known as box breathing and by various other names. It’s a great way to calm both body and mind.
Breathe in to a slow count to 4 (or 5)
Hold breath to a slow count of 4 (or 5)
Breathe out to a slow count of 4 (or 5)
Pause to a slow count of (4 or 5) before repeating several times.
Remind yourself of the FEAR acronym: False Expectations Appear Real (sometimes presented as false evidence appears real). Often if we pause to think, the matter that’s stressing us is based on a false assumption or on expectations that we’ve assumed others have on us which are not necessarily true.
Stand back: what would be the implications if you didn’t do something (today? at all?). Can you defer the task to another day when you have more time? This can be so releasing.
How do you eat an elephant? Break it down into bite sized chunks! We are often threatened by the enormity of a task. However, if you can break it down into manageable tasks it becomes much more do-able and you may be able to take the first step.
Do the next thing: doing something is better than doing nothing. It will give you a sense of achievement and confidence to do the next thing.
Make daily devotional times a priority: ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit and equip you for the coming day.
Take moderate daily physical exercise as part of improving health and fitness.
Take frequent breaks during the working day and book regular holidays in advance.
Tackle the complicated tasks when you are fresh and at the time of day that works best for you.
Flag potential problems in advance so that alleviating action can be taken by you and others.
Journal your concerns and thoughts.
It may be helpful at the end of the day to reflect in God’s presence on what’s gone well during the day and what concerns you about tomorrow. It may help to journal this. Then commit it to God in prayer. I’ve found it amazing how often yesterday evening’s concerns have not been realised! This is borrowed from the Ignatian Spirituality Examen exercise.
Review your sleep pattern and make changes if appropriate.
Develop a mutually supportive friendship where you can share life’s joys and concerns and prayer together. Introduce some “me” time on a daily and weekly basis where you can relax and choose what you think and/do. It could be as simple as doing in your walk to work, an evening soak in the bath or watching sporting highlights on TV.
Explore Christian meditation or contemplative prayer such as covered at https://www.johnmain.org/
Some may like to consider Christian mindfulness and Mindfulness Based Stress Relief (MBSR). I’d suggest reading the following article first: https://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/2015/05/13/4-guidelines-for-addressing-mindfulness/
Consider asking for professional help: be clear in advance what you hope the outcome of the help will be.
Take a short retreat (morning, day, overnight) to reflect on your situation and build this into your schedule two or three (or more) times a year.
Take a step back and consider your purpose and your priorities. Over time you may find it helpful to develop a personal mission statement (eg see Purpose Driven Life book signposted below).
Our self-worth affects our susceptibility to stress. Take the time (ideally on more than one occasion) to reflect on God’s sovereignty, your true worth to Him and ask Him to bring to mind any forgiveness that needs to be given or received in your life.
Consider how you can manage others’ expectations better.
Identify what’s causing you stress and make a plan to address those stressors.
Find support for the situations you face (eg see How’s your support network?).
HH: How’s my support network?
HH: Retreat activities for beginners
HH: Pacing life
HH: Time management and personal organisation
Working from a place of rest: Tony Horsfall
Stress: Gaius Davies
Honourably Wounded, Stress among Christian Workers: Marjorie Foyle
A Thorn in the Flesh: Pablo Martinez
Beat Stress and Designer Living – Ways to Beat Stress: Bill Munro
The Purpose Driven Life: Rick Warren
CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for Dummies: Rhena Branch
Examen exercise: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen
John Main online mediations https://www.johnmain.org/
Eden Online Christian bookshop has many books on stress, anxiety and depression. Put “Stress” in the search xxx to narrow down to Stress topics & list by best sellers https://www.eden.co.uk/shop/anxiety_stress_and_depression_512/index.html
How to deal with stress in mid-life: https://themuttonclub.com/how-to-deal-with-stress-in-midlife/
Produced by Helen Calder, Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos for anyone involved in leadership of a Christian charity or church, especially smaller ones. With 40 years of experience, including 17 years as executive director: finance and services at the Evangelical Alliance, Helen is well-placed to share the lessons she has learnt during a career in industry and the Christian charity sector.
Each resource introduces key points on a topic, often including a checklist for action and signposts to more detailed information on the subject. They cover aspects of the following areas: governance, strategy, management and leadership, money, personal matters and end of life.
All Helen’s Headlines resources are available for anyone who finds them useful. This includes trustees, staff and volunteers of charities and churches, as well as individuals.
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